Chicken Salad with Blood Orange and Giant Couscous
Salads give an enormous amount of wiggle-room when it comes to making a roast chicken go further. They give scope to experiment with ingredients, and it’s often when whisking the dressing that I decide to add a little of something else to the bowl. Here it was pumpkin seeds. Roast chicken seems to live very happily alongside crunchy nuts and tiny seeds – they give oiliness, texture and are subtle enough in flavour not to overpower – they are a sprinkle-on, effortless addition to any salad.
Ras el hanout is a blend of spices used in Moroccan cooking and gives a wonderful fragrance to the chicken – the smell when it’s roasting will send you into a stupor. It is easy to get hold of – Bart sell a tin – but it’s just as easy to make your own and keep it in the cupboard to stir into tagines, dressings, roast lamb or soups.
- To make ras el hanout:
- 2 tsp ground ginger
- 2 tsp ground cardamom seeds
- 2 tsp ground mace
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp ground allspice
- 1 tsp coriander seeds
- 1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
- 1 tsp ground turmeric
- ½ tsp black peppercorns
- ½ tsp white peppercorns
- ½ tsp cayenne pepper
- 1 star anise
- ¼ tsp ground cloves
- 1 x 1.8kg free-range chicken, at room temperature
- 3 cloves of garlic, crushed
- 2 tbsp ras el hanout (see ingredients above)
- 20g softened unsalted butter
- 2 blood oranges, 1 peeled and finely sliced, 1 unpeeled and halved
- 300g giant couscous
- 4 large handfuls of lamb’s lettuce and little leaves
- 2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley leaves
- 2 tbsp pumpkin seeds
- 1 tbsp pomegranate molasses, or 180ml or pomegranate juice, simmered and reduced to 2 tablespoons (find pomegranate molasses at thespiceshop.co.uk, or buy Al Rabih Pomegranate Molasses from Sainsbury's and Middle Eastern shops)
- 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
- 50ml rapeseed oil
- 2 tbsp natural Greek yoghurt
To make Ras El Hanout: Put all the ingredients into a pestle and mortar or a spice grinder and grind to a fine powder. Store in an airtight jar – it will keep up to 6 months.
1. Preheat the oven to 200°C/fan 180°C/gas 6. Place the chicken in a large roasting tray. Mix the garlic with the ras el hanout and combine with the softened butter. Push some of the butter mix under the skin of the chicken, being careful not to tear the skin, and smooth out with your fingers across the breast. Rub the rest of the bird with the remaining butter and season generously with salt and pepper. Push half the unpeeled orange into the cavity.
2. Slide the chicken into the oven. After 15 minutes, turn the oven down to 180°C/fan 160°C/gas 4 and cook for a further hour, basting with the juices every so often until cooked.
3. While the chicken is cooking, cook the couscous. Bring a pan of water to the boil and add the giant couscous. Simmer for 7–10 minutes, or according to the packet instructions, until tender. Drain and rinse under cold water. Set aside.
4. When the juices of the chicken run clear, remove the bird from the oven, transfer to a carving board and leave to rest for 15 minutes, covered with foil and a tea towel. Drain off any juices from the chicken and reserve for drizzling over the salad with the dressing. Slice up the chicken and set aside.
5. For the dressing, mix the pomegranate molasses or reduced pomegranate juice and red wine vinegar together. Slowly whisk in the rapeseed oil until the dressing emulsifies, then stir in the yoghurt. Season well with salt and pepper to taste.
6. Assemble the leaves, parsley, giant couscous and remaining sliced orange in a large shallow salad bowl and top with the spiced chicken. Drizzle over the dressing liberally, along with the reserved chicken juices, and top with the pumpkin seeds.